The Federal Communications Commission wants to invest in broadband infrastructure to power some 2,000 rural hospitals and clinics in the U.S. The move is part of the agency's plan to pump $400 million per year into health care IT.
The Federal Communications
Commission said it wants to invest in broadband infrastructure to power some
2,000 rural hospitals and clinics in the United States, part of the agency's plan
to pump $400 million per year into health care IT.
The effort, introduced in a
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking July 15, is part of the FCC's health care
connectivity bid to invest more money in broadband for "medically
underserved" communities across the country.
This includes clinics in
small town Appalachia, in the great Northwest
plains, in the vast deserts of the Southwest, among other regions, FCC Chairman
Julia Genachowski said in a statement.
The FCC said almost 30
percent of rural clinics and hospitals can't afford broadband connectivity to
digitally manage medical records, or transmit an X-ray or MRI.
The money would go toward
broadband fiber and other infrastructure, which would enable rural medical
centers to run the health care diagnostic applications used today in big city
Specifically, the move calls
for the FCC to partner with public and nonprofit health care providers to build
new regional and statewide broadband networks in parts of the country where it
is unavailable or insufficient.
The FCC would alleviate
broadband connectivity costs by sharing half of the monthly recurring network
costs with hospitals, clinics and other health care providers.
The FCC also argued the money
would not only bolster medical care, but spur private investment in networks
and health-related applications. The work needed to install the fiber and
implement health care IT platforms would also fuel the creation of new jobs.
This move would not increase
the size of the FCC's Universal Service Fund and is consistent with the
recommendations in the FCC's National Broadband Plan to serve rural communities broadband.
"This program is a
critical step in fulfilling the vision of the National Broadband Plan,"
"It establishes a
fiscally prudent program to invest in infrastructure for health care
connectivity, without increasing costs to consumers, and makes an expanded
range of broadband services more affordable. It would stimulate additional
private investment and innovation in both broadband and health IT."
He also said the FCC will collaborate
with the Food and Drug Administration to promote investment and innovation in
wireless health technology.